'He said never be afraid of life' - John Wilson's friend of 40 years pays tribute to Norfolk legend
PUBLISHED: 15:09 17 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:48 17 November 2018
A fleeting visit to John Wilson's tackle shop began a 40-year friendship for Nick Beardmore with "the greatest fisherman in the world."
Mr Beardmore was just 14 when he walked into the Tackle Den in Bridewell Alley, Norwich, where he met the Go Fishing presenter in 1978.
The legendary angler gave Mr Beardmore advice on how to catch large roach from the River Yare.
“Since that day we have been lifelong friends,” said Mr Beardmore. “John was my hero and mentor in fishing and has been a massive part of my life.
“I have got to know him and his family with deepest fondness.”
The 54-year-old Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer, from Old Catton, visited Mr Wilson in Thailand just four weeks ago, where they caught a 300lb arapaima fish from his lake.
Mr Beardmore said he saw a Facebook post on Mr Wilson’s page stating he had been the last person to fish with him.
The famous angler, who lived in Great Witchingham before moving to Thailand in 2013, inspired young and old while presenting Go Fishing from 1986 for 15 years.
“He was just the same John, there was no indication of anything amiss,” he added.
“I’ve fished with him in Norfolk for all species of fish but mainly for large pike using his boat on the Norfolk Broads.
“On a cold winters day we used to cook sausage in a frying pan and drink tea to keep us warm.”
He defined Mr Wilson as “the world’s most famous fisherman” and said something should be done to commemorate him in Norfolk.
“We definitely need something to remember him, a statue maybe at Great Witchingham where he lived for 30 years,” he added.
“John was undoubtedly the finest and most successful angler that has ever lived. He could catch fish from anywhere, whether it be from the sea or freshwater.
“He always said to me ‘Nick, never be afraid of life’ and he lived his life to the full enjoying every minute of it with his friends and family.
“He will be sorely missed and remembered by those that loved him and I feel privileged to have memories of wonderful adventures with this great man.”